The Hollywood Bowl is a modern amphitheatre in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, USA, that is used primarily for music performances. It has a seating capacity of 17,376.
The Hollywood Bowl is known for its band shell, a distinctive set of concentric arches that graced the site from 1929 through 2003, before being replaced with a somewhat larger one beginning in the 2004 season. The shell is set against the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills and the famous Hollywood Sign to the Northeast.
The "bowl" refers to the shape of the concave hillside the amphitheater is carved into. The bowl is owned by the County of Los Angeles and is the home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the host of hundreds of musical events each year.
It is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue, north of Hollywood Blvd and the Hollywood & Highland subway station and south of Route 101.
The Bowl officially opened on July 11, 1922 on the site of a natural amphitheater formerly known as the Daisy Dell.
At first, the Bowl was very close to its natural state, with only makeshift wooden benches for the audience, and eventually a simple awning over the stage. In 1926, a group known as the Allied Architects was contracted to regrade the Bowl, providing permanent seating and a shell. These improvements did provide increased capacity (the all-time record for attendance was set in 1936, when 26,410 people crowded into the Bowl to hear opera singer Lily Pons), but were otherwise disappointing, as the regrading noticeably degraded the natural acoustics, and the original shell was deemed acoustically unsatisfactory (as well as visually unfashionable, with its murals of sailing ships).
For the 1927 season, Lloyd Wright built a pyramidal shell, with a vaguely Southwestern look, out of left-over lumber from a production of Robin Hood. This was generally regarded as the best shell the Bowl ever had from an acoustic standpoint; unfortunately, its appearance was deemed too avant-garde, and it was demolished at the end of the season. It did, however, get Wright a second chance, this time with the stipulation that the shell was to have an arch shape.
For the 1928 season, Wright built a fiberglass shell in the shape of concentric 120-degree arches, with movable panels inside that could be used to tune the acoustics. It was designed to be easily dismantled and stored between concert seasons; apparently for political reasons this was not done, and it did not survive the winter.
For the 1929 season, the Allied Architects built the shell that stood until 2003, using a transite skin over a metal frame. Its acoustics, though not nearly as good as those of the Lloyd Wright shells, were deemed satisfactory at first, and its clean lines and white, almost-semicircular arches were copied for music shells elsewhere. As the acoustics deteriorated, various measures were used to mitigate the problems, starting with an inner shell made from large cardboard tubes (of the sort used as forms for round concrete pillars) in the 1970s, which were replaced by the early 1980s with the large fiberglass spheres (designed by Frank Gehry) that remained until 2003. These dampened out the unfavorable acoustics, but required massive use of electronic amplification to reach the full audience, particularly since the background noise level had risen sharply since the 1920s. The appearance underwent other, purely visual, changes as well, including the addition of a broad outer arch (forming a proscenium) where it had once had only a narrow rim and the reflecting pool in front of the stage that lasted from 1953 till 1972. Sculptor George Stanley designed the Muse Fountain. He had previously done The Oscar statuette.
Shortly after the end of the 2003 summer season the 1929 shell was replaced with a new, somewhat larger, acoustically improved shell, which had its debut in the 2004 summer season. Preservationists fiercely opposed the demolition for many years, citing the shell's storied history. However, even when it was built, the 1929 shell was (at least acoustically) only the third-best shell in the Bowl's history, behind its two immediate predecessors (which were designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright). By the late 1970s, the Hollywood Bowl became an acoustic liability because of continued hardening of its transite skin. The new shell incorporates design elements of not only the 1929 shell, but of both the Lloyd Wright shells. During the 2004 summer season, the sound steadily improved, as engineers learned to work with its live acoustics.
The 2004 shell incorporates the prominent front arch, flared at the base and forming a proscenium, of the 1926 shell, the broad profile of the 1928 shell, and the unadorned white finish (and most of the general lines) of the 1929 shell. In addition, the ring-shaped structure hung within the shell, supporting lights and acoustic clouds, echoes a somewhat similar structure hung within the 1927 shell. During the 2004 season, because the back wall was not yet finished, a white curtain was hung at the back; beginning with the 2005 season, the curtain was removed to reveal a finished back wall. The architectural concept for the shell was developed by the Los Angeles based architectural practice Hodgetts and Fung, with the structural concept developed by the local office of Arup.
At the same time the new shell was being constructed the bowl received four new video screens and towers. During most concerts, three remotely-operated cameras in the shell, and a fourth, manually-operated camera among the box seats, provide the audience with close-up views of the musicians.
In July 11, 1922, with the audience seated on simple wooden benches placed on the natural hillsides of Bolton Canyon, conductor Alfred Hertz and the Los Angeles Philharmonic inaugurated the first season of music under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl. While much has changed in the ensuing years, the tradition of presenting the world's greatest musicians and striving for musical excellence has remained a constant goal of this famed Los Angeles cultural landmark.
The Hollywood Bowl has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, since its official opening in 1922, and, in 1991, gave its name to a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in the musical life of Southern California, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
Of course, it is the incomparable performances that have truly made the Hollywood Bowl's history unique.
Artists that have appeared at the Bowl throughout the years include: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, The Doors, Luciano Pavarotti, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Oasis, Genesis, Barbra Streisand, Igor Stravinsky, TVXQ, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Gwen Stefani, Jascha Heifetz, The Mamas and the Papas, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, Paul McCartney and The Eagles.
So have President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mickey Rooney and Edward G. Robinson, as well as such "teams" as Fonteyn and Nureyev, Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, Simon and Garfunkel and Abbott and Costello.
Mikhail Baryshnikov has danced there, as has Fred Astaire.
Nat "King" Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Elton John, Al Jolson, Judy Garland and Kylie Minogue have headlined star-studded shows at the Bowl, but the all-time attendance record of 26,410 paid admissions was set on August 7, 1936, for a performance by the diminutive French opera star, Lily Pons.
The Hollywood Bowl has provided a showcase for the world's greatest musicians. Bernstein, Walter, Monteux, Mauceri, Koussevitzky, Stokowski, Karajan, Klemperer, and Leinsdorf, as well as Mehta, Giulini, Rattle, and Salonen are just a few of the conductors who have led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in summertime concerts over the past seven decades. Philip Glass, Itzhak Perlman, Gregor Piatigorsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Alfred Brendel, Vladimir Horowitz, Jessye Norman, Plácido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Isaac Stern, Kathleen Battle, Jane Eaglen, Marilyn Horne, Alexander Frey, Jennifer Larmore, Sylvia McNair, Andrea Bocelli, Gil Shaham, Stephen Hough, Luciano Pavarotti — and other distinguished vocal and instrumental soloists too numerous to mention — represent the illustrious talent that has graced the stage. But never during its long and illustrious history has the Bowl's programming been limited solely to symphonic events; fully staged operas were a regular part of the season in the early years, and the famed Bolshoi Ballet appeared during the 1950s.
In September 1950 California's official state centennial show, The California Story, ran for five performances. The production, directed by Vladimir Rosing, was immense. A chorus of 200 and hundreds of actors were employed. The shell of the bowl was removed, the stage was enlarged, and the action was expanded to include the surrounding hillsides. Lionel Barrymore provided the dramatic narration.
The first public performances by the newly formed Hollywood Bowl Orchestra were for Independence Day concerts on July 2–4, 1991 conducted by the orchestra's new conductor John Mauceri and Bruce Hubbard (baritone) as soloist. The program included works by Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern among others.
The Hollywood Bowl is featured in the following motion pictures:
A Star Is Born (1937)
Hollywood Hotel (1937) in which Rosemary Lane sings to Dick Powell.
Double Indemnity (1944)
Anchors Aweigh (1945) with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jose Iturbi.
It's a Great Feeling (1949)
Hollywood or Bust (1956)
Columbo: Étude in Black (1972)
A Perfect Couple (1979)
Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Beaches (1988), where Bette Midler's character CC Bloom is rehearsing for her concert at the Bowl.
Escape from L.A. (1996)
Lost and Found (1999)
Shrek 2 (2004), in the animated Far Far Away Idol DVD extra
Yes Man (2008)
Also, the Bugs Bunny short Long-Haired Hare (1948) shows Bugs tormenting an opera singer at an outdoor venue obviously inspired by the Hollywood Bowl.
The Beverly Hillbillies (1963) in episode 23 "Jed Buys the Freeway," in season 1. A conman attempts to sell the Clampetts the Hollywood Bowl, Griffith Park Zoo, and the freeway connecting the two.
The Simpsons (1995) in episode 23 "The Springfield Connection" in season 6. There is a parody of the Hollywood bowl in Springfield, named the Springfield Bowl.
Sleeper Cell (2006) in episode 7 "Fitna" in season 2. The Hollywood Bowl is the target of a dirty nuclear bomb.
Californication (2008) in episode 9 "La Ronde" in season 2. Ashby steals Karen away on a date and surprises her with a private Lili Haydn concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
CSI: Miami (2010) in episode 16 "L.A." in season 8. Horatio meet Captain Sutter at the Hollywood Bowl at the end of the episode.
1.^ LA Phil Presents Hollywood Bowl | History of the Hollywood Bowl
2.^ "Muse Fountain". http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/about/history.cfm.
3.^ "Hollywood Bowl Acoustics Project". http://www.acentech.com/studio_a/hollywood.html.
4.^ Ainsworth, Ed., "Narration by Barrymore Highlight of Pageant", Los Angeles Times, Sept 13, 1950.
5.^ Hollywood Hotel (1937)